ALASKA will be aiming for two birds with one stone when it takes on Barangay Ginebra on Saturday when the PBA Governors’ Cup goes on the road at the Hoops Dome in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.
The Aces not only aim to finally put an end to a franchise-worst 13-game losing streak dating back to April, but also use the 5 p.m. matchup to honor veteran gunner Dondon Hontiveros in front of his home fans.
The 40-year-old Cebuano Hotshot has hinted about retirement as early as the end of last season, but has shown he still has some gas left in tank when given the opportunity, although his contract with the Aces runs through until the end of the conference.
“Parang tribute game para sa akin,” Hontiveros said in a recent chat with SPIN.ph. “Opportunity for me to thank the fans, kasi baka mangyari for me na it’s hard to get another contract, and you might not have a chance of playing in front of your hometown.”
“And to (do it) against Ginebra, the most popular team, against the winningest coach, and against the coach na nagbigay sa akin ng break – coach Alfrancis, so maganda yung ginawa ng management,” he added. “Nakaka-excite.”
A Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA) superstar, Hontiveros made the jump to the PBA as a direct hire, playing his first two seasons with Tanduay under coach and now Ginebra governor and SMC sports director Alfrancis Chua.
Before he gets emotional, Hontiveros should make his home fans proud as the Aces try to barge into the win column in the season-ending conference after coming up empty handed in their first five games.
And Ginebra coach Tim Cone is bracing for a tough challenge from the Aces as the Gin Kings seek to stretch their win streak to four games, although they’re coming off a three-week break.
“Alaska is an incredibly scary team to play,” Cone said. “Of their last thirteen losses, they could have or should have won at least ten of them. They are not playing bad basketball. They’ve just been snake-bit and unusually unlucky. We respect the team, the coach, and the organization.
“We know we’ll have to prepare for an incredibly tough game out of town,” he added. “It should be a good one for the Cebuanos to see.”